“I’d like to see The Cincinnati Review become one of the leading journals in the country to publish edgy, innovative, truly groundbreaking literary nonfiction.”

These are the words of our Literary Nonfiction Editor Kristen Iversen, whose ambitious editorial mission guides our reading process here at The Cincinnati Review. We’ve been expanding our focus on literary nonfiction, and we’re hungry for submissions that won’t let us look away from the page.

Send us your lyric essays, memoir and personal writing, researched narrative nonfiction, and hybrid work—we want it all, and we can’t wait to see where your words take us. We’re also interested in graphic memoir, excerpts from longer works, and literary nonfiction pieces that combine text and images in innovative ways.

As Kristen notes, we’re looking for writing that’s “lyrical, reflective, self-interrogative, ironic, meditative, whimsical, surprising, informative, analytical, and just plain exciting.”

We want work that courts the intellect while also resonating on an emotional level, and we share Kristen’s belief that the best literary nonfiction “pushes boundaries but also holds true, in a verifiable way, to the real world through experience, research, event, memory, or character.”

Kristen offers the following advice for writers who are eager to submit literary nonfiction to The Cincinnati Review:

As I tell my students, a writer of literary nonfiction needs to think like a poet, write like a novelist, and tell the truth.  Truth matters. It’s up to the writer to determine what “truth” means. Voice is very important—perhaps the most important thing. I look for a balance of art and truth; that is, a compelling true story or experience expressed in a stylistic and aesthetic manner.  We are not seeking journalism or expository writing per se but rather literary nonfiction writing that engages the heart and mind of the reader in a creative and uniquely compelling way.

We’ve published a broad array of nonfiction by both established and emerging writers, including Beth Ann Fennelly, whose micro-memoirs Kristen describes as “a fascinating blend of poetry and nonfiction,” and Steven Wineman, whose essay “Erving and Alice and Sky and Elisabeth” made the list of notable essays in The Best American Essays 2017. Our next issue, 14.2 (available in just a few weeks!), features gripping nonfiction by Nancy Wayson Dinan, Lena Moses-Schmitt, Sonja Livingston, Shane Seely, and Matthew Ferrence. You’ll also find an essay by Floyd Skloot in the issue, a piece that, in Kristen’s words, “considers aspects of memory, friendship, and time, and tells a good story along the way.”

We want our readers and contributors to think of The Cincinnati Review as a top venue for today’s most accomplished literary nonfiction. If your work can help us fulfill that vision, we’ll be honored to publish it in our pages. To send us your art, your truth, and everything in between, please visit our online submission manager.

If you’re curious to know more about Kristen Iversen’s own work as a writer of literary nonfiction, you can check out her website. We’ll leave you with the official “teaser” for the forthcoming documentary based on Full Body Burden, her haunting and award-winning memoir about growing up near a secret nuclear weapons plant:


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